Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Your car insurance may protect you if your vehicle is damaged by vandalism, but you must meet certain requirements and carry specific coverage
  • Your policy needs to have comprehensive coverage, sometimes called “other-than-collision” coverage, in place before the loss occurs
  • Additionally, any vandalism that has occurred cannot be your fault or due to any negligence on your part
  • When you file a claim for a vandalism loss, you will often need a police report, photographs of the damage, and any witness information (if applicable)
  • Make sure to contact your insurance carrier as soon as possible to report the loss

When you discover your car has been vandalized, you may find yourself experiencing a larger loss than you can handle alone.

Vandalism is an unexpected act that can be as simple as keying your car to something as big as slashing your tires and smashing your windows. Your car insurance may be able to help you get back on your feet.

Before you experience this type of loss, it’s important to understand what coverage you need to protect yourself and your vehicle.

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What qualifies as vandalism?


Defining Vandalism

Vandalism can take different forms and shapes, depending on the extent of the damage, the intent of the vandal, and the target.

When it comes to your vehicle, common types of vandalism include having your car scratched with keys, your windows being broken, your vehicle being spray painted or marked up, or having your tires slashed or punctured.

At the most basic level, vandalism is a deliberate act carried out by malicious or mischievous individuals that want to damage or destroy property that is not their own.

Vandalism can result in legal consequences, such as jail time or fines and fees if the person or persons responsible are apprehended.

It’s important that you contact both your insurance carrier and your local law enforcement as soon as possible to report your vandalism-related loss.

Targets of Vandalism

Vandalism losses can occur to any vehicle regardless of age or design, though some vehicles are more likely to be targeted.

Some vehicles, such as new or eye-catching ones, can often be the target of mischievous individuals looking to engage in malicious actions; the motivation behind the vandalism can be boredom, social motivation, economic frustration, or other motivators.

Remember that where you store your car can be a factor in your vandalism risk; cars parked in high-risk areas or newer cars parked in low-income areas can be easy targets.

If you live in an area with higher risks of these types of losses, your insurance carrier will often take this into consideration when writing your policy. Additionally, they may discuss vandalism losses with you and what you can do to reduce your potential exposure.

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Which coverage protects you from vandalism losses?


Carrying Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage is a coverage option you can choose to carry on your car insurance policy; this may be called “other-than-collision” coverage depending on where you live.

This coverage type applies to losses that occur that are not related to a collision with another vehicle or an object, though collisions with an animal are an exception that does fall under this coverage.

Carrying comprehensive coverage on your vehicle means you are trying to protect yourself from unforeseen losses that are usually not caused by another person.

However, there are types of losses that fall under this coverage that another party can be responsible for:

  • vehicular theft
  • riots
  • vandalism

The above list shows a few of the more common losses that another party may be responsible for.

Planning Ahead Before a Loss Occurs

Since vandalism often occurs without any warning or notice, it’s important to make sure that you carry the proper coverage before a loss event occurs.

Insurance carriers are not obligated to provide you coverage in the event of loss that is not covered on your policy as of the date your loss occurs.

For instance, if your vehicle is vandalized on a Friday, but you do not add comprehensive coverage to your policy until Saturday, your loss may not be covered.

It’s important to remember that you should be honest with your insurance carrier when you purchase your policy or add coverage.

If you have experienced a loss due to vandalism and then attempt to add coverage for the loss after the fact so you can file a claim, you are committing insurance fraud.

There can be serious consequences if you are found to be engaging in fraudulent activities; do not attempt to mislead an insurance provider with fraudulent information.

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What should you do when vandalism occurs?

Handling a loss due to vandalism often requires multiple steps to get the claim properly reported and to ensure your loss can be investigated adequately.

These steps normally include:

  • contacting the police as quickly as possible
  • documenting and recording the damage to your vehicle
  • notifying your insurance carrier about the loss
  • implementing any mitigation steps your insurer may suggest or require

Contacting Local Law Enforcement

When it comes to contacting your insurance carrier and local law enforcement, the loss that you’ve experienced or what is currently occurring may determine which order you complete these steps in.

If the vandals or persons responsible are still in the area or still engaged in vandalizing your vehicle, contact your local law enforcement. They may be able to apprehend the individuals responsible for your loss.

When you contact the law enforcement in your area, make sure to accurately report the extent of the damages that have occurred, anything you witnessed about the perpetrators, and request a copy of the police report as soon as possible.

When you file the claim through your insurance carrier you may need to provide this yourself; some carriers may be willing and able to work with law enforcement to receive the report themselves.

Filing a Claim With Your Insurance Carrier

Contacting your insurance carrier to notify them of the loss is a crucial step in getting your loss investigated, your vehicle repaired or replaced, and your claim settled.

Even if the loss has just occurred you can still contact your carrier to notify them; they may decide that waiting to complete the claim process until you have more information is the right way to proceed.

When you file the claim, having properly documented photographs and written lists of the damages are essential.

Your claim representative or an insurance adjuster may want to investigate or inspect your vehicle on their own, or they may rely on the photographs and information you provide.

Additionally, when your claim is resolved, and a settlement is reached, it’s important to make sure that the loss you experienced is being properly settled.

When you are documenting your loss, including information about anything that was stolen from the vehicle may be necessary. The police report will often contain this information, but your insurance carrier may ask about these types of losses as well.

Mitigating Further Loss

After you speak to your provider, make sure to take any steps necessary to protect yourself from further loss; this effort to protect yourself is often referred to as mitigating steps.

Your insurance carrier may have required steps you should take, or they may advise you to do what is reasonable and necessary. If this is the case, you may want to cover your damaged vehicle with a tarp, moving it to a secured location, and cleaning up the broken pieces.

It’s important to inform any other party that has a financial interest in your vehicles, such as a lien holder or lease company, when a vandalism loss occurs.

Although you are pursuing a claim to get the vehicle repaired or replaced, it’s important to make them aware of the loss situation; this prevents any surprises on their part.

What do you need to remember about vandalism claims?


Your Insurance Deductible

Claiming a loss related to vandalism often means filing a claim under the comprehensive coverage of your car insurance policy; this coverage usually carries a deductible, which is the amount of any covered loss you are responsible for.

The deductible on your policy may be a specific amount of the loss, or it may be a percentage of your loss; the deductible is normally listed in your policy terms and conditions.

If you experience a loss that is lower than your deductible, your insurance carrier is not required to cover any portion of the loss. Additionally, if you carry a higher deductible, your policy premium may end up being lower in the long run.

Incidental Expenses and Reimbursement

When you have filed a claim for vandalism, you will want to save your receipts for any incidental expenses you have until your car is operational.

In some instances, your insurance policy will provide reimbursement for alternate transportation methods that you may need to use until your car is repaired or replaced.

There may be unique circumstances that require you to make repairs to your car before your claim can be properly resolved; this often occurs in situations where vandalism damages occur while you are traveling and need to continue using your car.

If you have to make reasonable and necessary repairs to your car, it’s important to save any receipts for your expenses.

If possible, speak to your insurance provider about reimbursement coverage on your policy, and if your policy will cover these types of alternate transportation methods or emergency repairs.

Your provider may require you to wait before making any repairs unless you meet specific criteria, so always speak to them before engaging in these activities.

Protecting Your Car from Further Loss

It’s important to follow the steps provided by your claim representative after you’ve spoken to your carrier, even if you have yet to file your claim.

If you are provided steps to take and fail to follow them, your insurance carrier may not be able to resolve your claim accurately; further damages can obscure the true nature of your claim.

You may be required to protect your car until the adjuster can complete their inspection, if applicable.

If your windows have been damaged due to vandalism, protecting the interior of your car from weather-related damages is often needed.

This protection can be as simple as moving your vehicle into an enclosed structure or covering up broken windows to prevent the elements from getting in.

Additionally, if your tires have been slashed or damaged, finding a way to keep the rims of your wheels from resting on the pavement may be a good option.

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Protecting yourself from financial losses means choosing the car coverage that meets your needs.

If vandalism is a concern in your area, or you want to make sure you’re protected, it’s important to carry the correct coverage option; vandalism is covered under comprehensive coverage, sometimes referred to as “other-than-collision” coverage.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are experiencing a vandalism-related loss, make sure you take appropriate and expedited actions to mitigate any further risk.

You want to contact your local law enforcement as soon as you discover the loss, as they can file a police report, and it’s crucial that you photograph and catalog the damages as well.

Contacting your insurance provider should also be completed as quickly as possible, because they may have specific steps you need to follow for your claim.

For instance, you may need to cover or secure the vehicle and leave it in the condition it is until a claim representative or adjuster can inspect the vehicle; this allows your provider to complete their investigation rather than relying on photographs and reports.

You may also still be required to cover a portion of your loss, even if you carry the correct car insurance coverage.

Under comprehensive coverage, you often carry a deductible, which is the amount of the loss you are responsible for covering.

Depending on your deductible terms and amount, you may need to pay this portion before your loss is covered or this amount may be deducted from any claim settlement.

Compare quotes for car insurance to make sure you’re paying a fair price for the coverage you desire.